Residents’ relief as works set to begin
Works to install an emergency overflow pipe from Lough Funshinagh to the River Shannon to prevent the immediate risk of flooding have been given the go ahead by Minister of State for the Office of Public Works Patrick O’Donovan.
In response to a letter received on Wednesday evening last (May 19th) from the Chief Executive of Roscommon County Council, Eugene Cummins, the Minister of State confirmed that the OPW would supply the resources requested so that works can commence without delay.
Speaking to Mr. Cummins on Wednesday evening last, Deputy O’Donovan reiterated his support for the course of action he has taken.
“I promised full Government support in January to Roscommon County Council to help avert damage from potential flood victims, and, having received the urgent appeal for assistance, I have instructed the OPW to provide whatever resources are required in terms of labour or equipment to facilitate the Council’s preventive flood mitigation works,” the Minister of State said.
Roscommon County Council’s decision to intervene is prompted by recent reports and a Hydrological Update on Lough Funshinagh which predict flooding levels next winter to exceed previous records.
The Roscommon County Council Chief Executive has now signed an order to commence the works, which are expected to be completed this summer.
The announcement was warmly welcomed across the county and beyond this week with Cathaoirleach of Roscommon County Council and Rahara resident, Cllr. Laurence Fallon describing it as a “great day” for the flood-affected village.
“You wouldn’t recognise some of the people around here this week such is the relief they feel. The works simply couldn’t have waited until next year because the level of the lake just wasn’t going down. It’s great news and very well done to all involved,” he said.
Local resident, Padraig Beattie, whose home is at immediate risk of flooding, said it was fantastic news and he now hoped works could be completed as quickly as possible.
“Everyone around here is much happier because we just didn’t know what we’d do next winter or whether some of the land and homes would still be here. There was fear and a feeling that you’re not safe in your own home. It’s hard to do jobs around the yard because you don’t know if it will be there next year,” he said.
Mr. Beattie also supported calls for local farmers to be given some form of compensation.
Thankfully, there was no damage done to the property next to Mr. Beattie’s, which is home to Edward John and Teresa Beattie, a couple in their 80s. Padraig said it was hoped the couple could move back home soon after being forced to leave the residence in February due to rising water levels.
Meanwhile, Geraldine Murray, the Secretary of the Lough Funshinagh Flood Crisis Committee welcomed the announcement on behalf of the group and said that without immediate intervention the floods would destroy more homes, farmyards, lands, and dwellings.
Independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice said common sense had finally prevailed and the overflow would bring “peace of mind” for local residents.
“Common sense has finally prevailed in this scenario…Thankfully, everyone is now singing from the same hymn sheet and work get underway as soon as possible,” he said.
Deputy Fitzmaurice paid tribute to Deputy O’Donovan and his predecessor Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran as well as former councillor Ivan Connaughton and local resident Sinéad Beattie who had lobbied for a solution.
Fine Gael Senator Aisling Dolan thanked Minister O’Donovan for his support at “such a critical juncture” while Fianna Fáil Senator Eugene Murphy described it as “a massive step forward” thanks to the work of Council Chief Executive Eugene Cummins and local councillors.
Meanwhile, Roscommon IFA Chairman, Jim O’Connor, thanked local political representatives and Roscommon County Council staff for all their work and praised the “enormous community spirit and support” shown by local residents.